We all spend so much of the time doing things by rote .. “We do it this way because that’s what we did in the past and if it worked then why waste time doing it another way? ” Auto-pilot’s a good thing right? It enables us to focus on other things. The thing is, circumstances change, and the auto pilot might be dangerous or counter-productive in a new situation.
Here’s an excerpt from The Suited Hippy And The Stress Junkie that illustrates the point ..
So what ? What can I do about it ? Well …
Be Aware. Notice where you have friction in your life ..if something is not working as it did .. if your relationship is not as healthy , if you’re not getting the same results at work or maybe you’re not as energetic as you were.
Be curious. Examine the circumstance. Whats different now? Be honest.Where have you switched into auto-pilot and made assumptions?
Be open to change. What might you do differently?. Notice if you’re afraid to try something and take a good look at why.
Be intentional. Try something new with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you want to feel.
Excerpt from The Suited Hippy And The Stress Junkie
As Germaine climbed into the leather bucket seat of the Audi TT hire car, she realised it was an automatic. She had never driven an automatic car and contemplated going back into the rental office to get an exchange. But time was ticking and she hadn’t allowed much room for complications.
‘It can’t be that hard,’ she thought. ‘I’ll give it a go.’
She turned the key and released the handbrake, moving the gearstick to drive and putting her foot on the accelerator. The car lurched forward. She slammed on the brake, prompting some curious looks from passing pedestrians.
Adjusting to the sensitivity of the car, she moved forward gently and turned onto the main road. Things were looking up: the car had a sporty feel to it. But her approach to the first set of traffic lights broke the spell, the car kangarooing along the road for 10 metres when she put her foot on the brake.
‘What the hell is going on?’ she shouted.
Trying to keep calm she managed to pull off smoothly from the lights, but she still had problems every time she needed to stop. By the time she reached work she was on the verge of tears.
Dumping her bag, she headed straight to the kitchen for a coffee. Tom crossed the office to join her.
‘What’s up, Germaine?’
‘Bloody hire car,’ she snapped. ‘It’s a nightmare to drive. I’m supposed to be doing a coaching session in 15 minutes and there are things I needed to get done before
the session that I haven’t. Arrgggghhh!’
‘What kind of car?’ he asked.
‘TT automatic. Looks great, but it’s uncontrollable.’
‘Have you driven an automatic before?’
‘Nope, but isn’t it supposed to be easier?’
‘I bet you’re using both feet at the same time. That’s what you do naturally and that’s what I did. The trick is only to use one leg to drive with and keep the other out of the way.’
Germaine felt herself flush with embarrassment. ‘I think you’re right. How stupid of me.’
She was still worked up when Theo arrived for another session.
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked after they’d sat down.
‘Just some crap with my car, nothing really. The thing is, I’d been feeling generally better and I’d been doing the things I’d committed to. It’s typical of me, I start something and get waylaid somehow.’
‘What happened that you found challenging?’ he asked, smiling.
‘My car is in the garage and I needed a hire car, so I got this little TT. It looks great, but it’s an automatic and I’ve never driven one before. I should have gone back to
change it, but I didn’t have time. It was hopping all over the place and I felt really stupid.’
‘So what can you learn from that?’
‘Umm, I guess there’s a bunch of stuff. I should have said I didn’t want an automatic car, which means I should have been clear about my requirements.’
‘I didn’t have time to change the car because I was late, so maybe I need to give myself more time. And getting upset and stressed about the situation only seemed to make it worse. This kind of thing happens all the time to me.’
‘Good. Can you see how this event might be a metaphor for you right now?’ Theo asked.
Thinking again about what Tom had said, she offered, ‘When I’m in a new situation, my old behaviours don’t guarantee success and can actually be counter-productive.’
‘Brilliant! We mostly operate on automatic, using our normal coping strategies and habits, so when we’re in a new environment and they don’t work as expected, we get anxious. It’s just the same if we commit ourselves to doing something new: the world and our beliefs make us resistant.’